Mormonism: “The Big Con?” (pt 10: Here Come the “Brides”)

As those of you who have read the last couple of episodes know, I’ve split the same time period into separate areas, with some crossovers. Last two posts I covered almost everything in ’41 & ’42 except for “spiritual wifery”. This allows me to devote a couple of whole posts on plural marriage, “one-night-wives”, and maybe a few necessary operations to heal some “lingering problems”. This was originally supposed to be covered in one post, but sooo many “wives” i.e. “hide the pickle” partners.

If you’ve read my posts before, you know that I do a lot of suggesting that you read or pre-read previous or connected posts. There several reasons I do this. (I mean, besides getting more hits for my blog.) The primary reason is that nothing happens in a vacuum. This episode is no different.

As an example, readers of “The Religious Wrong (pt 3: The Great(?) Awakening)” know, 19th century democratic diddling wasn’t a Mormonite exclusive. Cults ranging from the Nashoba Commune to the Oneida Community practiced it. The Harmony Society, of course, went the other direction. (No body sharing at all.) They ended up dying off from lack of a 2nd generation.

But, mention polygamy and the first thought that hits is MORMONS!! This causes more than a little embarrassment to the church. (As it should!)

Warren Jeffs  Inmate (life + 20) Louis C. Powledge Unit, Texas Dept of Criminal Justice

Warren Jeffs
Inmate (life + 20) Louis C. Powledge Unit, Texas Dept of Criminal Justice

When I was a good little Mormon boy, (I really was, you know.) there was a splinter polygamist group (Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) centered around Colorado City in northern Arizona.

According to the word I heard in seminary, you could get excommunicated for even going there. I’m not really sure that it was true, but it was TBM (True Believing Mormon) conventional wisdom.

The group has been back in the news the last few years. You might remember FLDS President, Warren Jeffs. If not, here’s a link.

Or watch this: (psst…NSFW, if you care about garbage like that.)


Welcome to the land of “Who said she said they said I said he said we said?”

Lots of gossip going on in this one. (Thank you Relief Society ladies.) More than that, it’s an insidious smear campaign with both sides blasting away. However, I will try to keep the unfounded and/or illogical gossip to a minimum. Unfortunately, in many cases there are just two people involved and one of them is lying. So, I’ll be depending on patterns of general behavior, personal history, ulterior motives and such. (In other words, Joe’s goose is about ready to come out of the oven.)

I am not going to list every one of Joe’s claimed wives. I’ve seen lists of up to 51. I’m just listing those that have substantial collaboration. This is the same approach I took with his earlier “married for the night” girls.

One of the problems is that polygamy is illegal and there aren’t a lot of records. For that reason, some of the “marriages” don’t have exact dates. In those cases I went with historians’ best estimate as to the month or season. Then there’s the fact that most of the Mormonites still consider polygamy a huge sin, (Jacob 2: 23-24 and all that.) and Joe’s been lyin’ & denyin’ for years. Plus, some cases are probably just plain cover for a bit of adultery. (Fanny Alger is most likely an example of that.)

But, enough foreplay, time to drop the bomb. (I can mix metaphors with the best of ’em.)

Mormon Chronology


“If the woman preferred a man higher in authority, and he is willing to take her and her husband gives her up-there is no Bill of divorce required…it is right in the sight of God”…(the woman) “would be in a higher glory”  Brigham (the bigot) Young: Conference Reports, 10/6/1861

Oops, I did it again!

And no, I’m not going to post Britney’s vid. I do have some taste. Not much, as you can tell, but some. Instead I’ll post something from Angry Dick. (Not sure if that’s his name, personality or anatomy part.)

(1/17/1827) Emma Hale 22 (single)

See episode 1: “Joe & the Magic Hat Stone“.

(??/1833) Fanny Alger 16 (single)

See episode 3: “Marching to Zion & Fancying Fanny’s Fanny“.

(??/1838) Lucinda Pendleton Morgan (Harris) 37 (married)

See episode 5: “Uncivil War“.

(4/5/1841) Louisa Beaman 26 (single)

Louisa BeamanMiz Beaman is not currently a Mormonite, but that’s just a minor matter to Joe.

They first met when Joe bunked in with the Beaman family (Didn’t I play this song before?) back in ’34.

The family, other than Louisa, joined the church and they all moved to Kirtland. After the “anti-bank” fiasco, they followed Joe to Far West and then to Nauvoo.

In the fall of ’40 Joe teaches Joe Noble “the principle of celestial (i.e. plural) marriage”. He asks him to hitch him up with Louisa. He also tells Elder Noble “In revealing this to you, I have placed my life in your hands, therefore do not in an evil hour betray me to my enemies.” Todd Compton: “In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith” p 49: Signature Books (1997)

Not only his enemies, if the State of Illinois finds out, he could go to jail for bigamy. Then there’s Emma, who’s not currently cognizant (your “word of the day”) of the proceedings, and not too enthusiastic about sharing. (Remember Fanny Alger?) Lastly, there are the Mormonites themselves who are still laboring under the impression that Big Daddy thinks multiple mates are an abomination.

To keep the ceremony secret, Louisa wears a man’s coat and hat. (So it looks like Joe is marrying a man? I thought the church frowns on that sort of thing.) Though secret, the wedding is attended by Apostle Lorenzo Snow, and Elder Benjamin F. Johnson. (They promise not to tell, and, they don’t until 1887.)

Joseph Noble offers them his house for their post-nuptial romp, advising them to “Blow out the lights and get into bed.”

Joe and Louisa remain “married” until Joe’s demise. Then she marries Brigham (the bigot) Young. (Sounds like a bit of a spiritual gold digging to me.) Several other of Joe’s wives make the transition as well.

The other main character in this short saga, Mr Noble, had previously married Louisa’s sister, which probably explains why he was picked for officiating. He later goes on to claim that he performed the first plural marriage in this dispensation, conveniently ignoring Fanny and Lucinda. He also brags that he’s the first one to “knock up” a plural wife. (Although, there’s a few possibilities that Joe beat him to it.)

(10/27/1841) Zina Diantha Huntington (Jacobs) 18 (married)

Zina is already married, but as we’ve seen, that ain’t no biggie to Joe. In 1841 he sends hubby Hank off on a mission to get him out of the way. He then proceeds to put the moves on Mrs Jacobs, but at this point, she ain’t buyin’ what he’s sellin’.

Disclaimer: Mormonite angels don't really have wings. They teleport.  That being said, a pic of a wingless angel just doesn't look like the pic of an angel.

Disclaimer: Mormonite angels don’t really have wings. They teleport.
That being said, a pic of a wingless angel just doesn’t look like a pic of an angel.

Probably a bit frustrated, he tries a different tactic. He sends Zina’s older brother Dimick (You probably pronounce that DIM-ick.) to deliver a message: An angel with a drawn sword had stood over Smith and told him that if he did not establish polygamy, he would lose “his position and his life.” Todd Compton: In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith, pp 80-81 (1997)

Faced with being responsible for Joe losing his “propheting” job (AS IF!) and his life, Zina caves. When hubby finds out Zina’s sharing her bed and her “spread”, he writes “[W]hatever the Prophet did was right, without making the wisdom of God’s authorities bend to the reasoning of any man.” (Joe trains ’em well!)

In 1846, Brigham (the bigot) is head of part of what’s left of Joe’s church. Taking a page from Joe’s book, he sends hubby Hank off on another mission and moves Zina in with him.

This time, hubby is not as happy. Brigham tells him that since Zina had been Joe’s, and since Brigham is Joe’s proxy, ergo, Zina is his! Go suck a lemon, or get yourself another “wife”.  Fawn M. Brodie: No Man Knows My History, pp 465-66 (1971)

(11/7/1841) Joe’s starting to feel the heat. In his sermon he says “If you do not accuse each other, God will not accuse you. If you have no accuser you will enter heaven, and if you will follow the revelations and instructions which God gives you through me, I will take you into heaven as my back load. If you will not accuse me, I will not accuse you. If you will throw a cloak of charity over my sins, I will over yours—for charity covereth [sic] a multitude of sins. What many people call sin is not sin; I do many things to break down superstition, and I will break it down;” Joseph Smith: History of the Church, Vol. 4, p.445  (Translation: “You’re too damn dumb to appreciate what I’m doing, so STFU or I’ll send you to hell!”)

 (12/11/1841) Presendia Lathrop Huntington (Buell) 31 (married)

Zina’s so much fun, it’s “Sister Time”! Of course, her sister’s also married, but…..well, you know the story.

I do wonder if Joe uses the same line with Mrs Buell that he did with her sister. As we shall see, that line (or a variation) shows up in a number of his seduction attempts. (Then again, maybe it’s just Big Daddy telling him to “get screwed” and he takes it literally.)

Interesting side note. Brother “DIM-ick” (Joe’s errand boy) officiates at both of his sisters’ “marriages”. As a payment for presiding, Joe gives him “eternal salvation”. Todd Compton: In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith, pp 122-24 (1997)

After Joe’s death, Presendia marries Heber Kimball and ends up leaving her real husband in ’48.

(1/6/1842) Agnes Moulton Coolbirth 31 (single)

Agnes is a widow. Agnes is Joe’s bro Don Carlos’ widow.

Hmmm, what does B.D. have to say about this sort of thing? Well, in Deuteronomy, it says “If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband’s brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband’s brother unto her.” Deuteronomy 25:5

However, over in Leviticus, it states “And if a man shall take his brother’s wife, it is an unclean thing: he hath uncovered his brother’s nakedness; they shall be childless.” Leviticus 20:21

So, I guess this is Joe’s call. As if it wasn’t in the first place.

(1/15/1842) A young woman named Martha Brotherton is allegedly approached by Brigham (the bigot) and propositioned while she’s in Joe’s office. He tells her “Brother Joseph has had a revelation from God that it is lawful and right for a man to have two wives; for as it was in the days of Abraham, so it shall be in these last days . . . if you will accept of me, I will take you straight to the celestial kingdom.” (His “3rd leg” is reputed to be rather large.)

He briefly leaves the office and brings in Joe. Miss Brotherton quotes Joe as saying “I know that this is lawful and right . . . I have the keys of the kingdom, and whatever I bind on earth is bound in heaven, and whatever I loose on earth is loosed in heaven.” Explaining that this is all so sudden and different, she needs time to absorb it. She leaves the office and quickly gets the hell out of Nauvoo. St. Louis Bulletin, 15 July 1842

I include this rather one-sided and unsubstantiated item for a couple of reasons. First, there’s nothing here out of character for Joe, or it will turn out, Brigham (the bigot). Secondly, there is nothing to gain for miss Brotherton, nor any reason that she would be picking on Joe or Brigham. Joe and Brigham, on the other hand, have their “good” names to defend. Despite his multiple “marriages”, Joe is still lying about everything.

(1/17/1842) Mary Elizabeth Rollins (Lightner) 23 (married)

Joe and Mary met when he was 26 and she was 12. “Joseph said I was his before I came here and he said all the Devils in Hell should never get me from him.” Newell & Avery: Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith, p 153 (1994) Nowadays, a 26-year-old man telling a 12-year-old girl that she belonged to him and hell itself wouldn’t change that, would be spending some vacation time in an institution for the not-very-nice. Just ask Warren Jeffs.

Three years later he told her that Big Daddy commanded him to “take her for a wife.” Since they weren’t “married” until ’42, she married someone else first, and knowing Joe, I have to wonder: Is “take her for a wife” a euphemism?

I guess she’s a pretty good “roll-in-the-hay”, because in Nauvoo he uses the same line on her that worked with Zina. (Angel with sword telling Joe he has to screw more women, yadda, yadda, yadda.)

Anyway, they’re finally “married”, Brigham (the bigot) presiding and Presendia Lathrop Huntington Buell Smith’s future extra hubby, Heber Kimball, dispensing the blessing. Some historians claim the baby bump she’s sporting at the “wedding” is Joe’s fault. However, the child dies in infancy, so there’s no DNA to check.

Of course, everyone’s sworn to secrecy, but Mary knows about Joe’s other wives. “I know Joseph Smith had six wives and I have known some of them from childhood up. I knew he had three children [by his plural wives]. They told me. I think two are living today, but they are not known as his children as they go by other names.” Mary Lightner: 1905 Address, typescript, BYU, pp. 2-3

Mary continues to live with her first husband. As to why, Mary explains in a 1880 letter to Emmeline B. Wells, “I did just as Joseph told me to do.”

After Joe “bites the big one”, Mary becomes Brigham the bigot’s 24th wife.

(2/8/1842) Sylvia Porter Sessions (Lyon) 23 (married)

Syliva married Windsor Lyon back in ’37. In fact, Joe did the marrying. By 1842, the Lyons have two kids and are running a dry goods store in Navuoo.

To keep up “appearances”, after the marriage, Sylvia continues to live with Windsor. (Nobody knows if Winsor knows that he’s sharing his wife.)

Years later, Sylvia shares a secret with her daughter. “Just prior to my mother’s death in 1882 she called me to her bedside … to tell me something which she had kept as an entire secret from me and from all others but which she now desired to communicate to me. She then told me that I was the daughter of the Prophet Joseph Smith.” Newell & Avery: Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith, p 44 (1994)

Very Young Bride(2/17/1842) The Nauvoo city council decides that 14 is a good age for girls to be married. “All male persons over the age of seventeen years, and females over the age of fourteen years, may contract and be joined in marriage, provided, in all cases where either party is a minor, the consent of parents or guardians be first had.” “Nauvoo Records,” “An Ordinance Concerning Marriages passed February 17, 1842,” (As one of my crude friends put it back in high school: “If they’re old enough to bleed, they’re old enough to bone.”) This comes in handy for Joe when he adds a couple of 14-year-old girls to his stable in ’43.

Nowadays that’s “robbing the cradle” and illegal in every country in the world except Brunei & Yemen.

I does, however, give me an excuse for some “Idol” time.

(3/9/1842) Patty Bartlett (Sessions) 47 (married)

Sessions? Sessions? That name sounds familiar. Oh yah, Joe married Patty’s daughter a month ago. Well, after “sister sex” with Zina and Presendia, I guess “mother-daughter” is the next logical step.

Obviously, there’s no lingering proof of a “ménage à trois”. However, time and time again we’ve seen examples of “if Joe likes it, it’s legal and moral, and if he don’t, it ain’t”. And, to this point in time, our boy Joe has never been known for his restraint. Also, as we have seen, these “spiritual” marriages have a very “temporal” aspect.

Patty also comes in handy in other ways. She approaches perspective wives for Joe. (He’s getting way too busy chatting with Big Daddy and dodging the law to go beaver hunting. But, wouldn’t that make her a procurer i.e. pimp-et?) She stands as a witness for the weddings. (Her daughter was a witness at hers.) She acts as a messenger, go-between and ombudsman for the ladies. She educates them in “Joe pleasing”. Todd Compton: In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith, p 179 (1997) (That all kind of sounds like the job description of a bordello madam .)

All-in-all, a good value for Joe.

(4/1842) Marinda Nancy Johnson (Hyde) 27 (16?) (married)

Remember Marinda from episode 2:”Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It’s Off to Church We Go“? For those of you that don’t, she was the probable cause of Joe being the guest of honor (despite the fact, he has none) at a “Tar & Feathers” party hosted by Marinda’s brothers. A doctor even came along to perform a “ball-ectomy” on Joe. Jon Krakauer: Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith, p 90 (2003) Fortunately, the doc chickened out or this would be a far duller series.

Anyway, darling Marinda is back. She’s married to Orson Hyde, but he’s off proselytizing in Palestine. I guess Big D decides Joe still isn’t getting enough “poon”, so to help poor Joe out, he gives him a message for Marinda: “hearken to the counsel of my servant Joseph in all things whatsoever he shall teach unto her” Official History of the Church, vol 4, p 467 Since interacting with the sisters and the mother-daughter act, he probably has plenty to teach her.

By May of ’44, with hubby off doing missionary stuff again, Marinda’s “with child”, and it ain’t Orson’s! When Orson gets back, he doesn’t get upset, he gets a couple more wives.

I guess Marinda finally gets tired of musical beds. She later dumps Orson and denounces polygamy.

(4/10/1842) Joe invites Sid’s (Sidney Rigdon if you’re new here.) 19-year-old daughter Nancy to meet with him. When she arrives, he takes her into a private room and locks the door. He swears her to secrecy and then professes his “affection for her for several years, and wished that she should be his…the Lord was well pleased with this matter…here was no sin in it whatever”.

She tells Joe that she’ll never marry any married man, let alone him. And, if he doesn’t unlock the door she’ll scream her head off until someone comes to her rescue. (I don’t think she was too flattered by Joe’s offer to join his harem.) Official History of the Church, vol 4, p 467

The next day, Joe writes her a letter stating ”That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be, and often is, right under another. … Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is” (So he’s saying Big Daddy requires him to play “wrap a weenie” with Miss Rigdon?) Nancy gives the letter to her dad. When Sid asks Joe what the hell is going on, Joe tells him that it was all just a test. (I doubt if he mentions what he was “testing”.) Richard S. Van Wagoner: Sidney Rigdon Biography, p.295

(prior to 6/1842) Elizabeth Davis (Durfee) 50 (married)

Back up the timeline I mentioned that Patty Sessions’ duties mirrored those of a bordello madam. I guess she’s getting overwhelmed, because it seems there’s a need for another “Mother of Israel”. (What a nice euphemism.)

As an example, in the spring of ’43, Joe gets the “hots” for Emily Partridge. As he begins the seduction attempt, according to Emily, he says “If you will not betray me, I will tell you something for your benefit….[he] asked me if I would burn it if he would write me a letter”. Thinking this is improper, Emily declines the letter.

A bit later Elizabeth invited Emily to her home. “She introduced the subject of spiritual wives as they called it that day [and wondered] if there was any truth in the report she heard….[I thought to myself] I could tell her something that would make her open her eyes if I chose”.

Later “Mrs Durfee came to me one day and said Joseph would like an opportunity to talk with me. I asked her if she knew what he wanted. She said she thought he wanted me for a wife. I was to meet him in the evening at Mr. Kimballs.” Todd Compton: In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith, pp 407-8 (1997)

Joe “bags” Emily later that evening. Four days later, he gets her sister Eliza. (The usual “details down the timeline”.)

Elizabeth is on her third marriage when Joe becomes #4. Her first two husbands passed away. After Joe dies, she’ll dump #3 and marry #5.

(5/11/1842) The church announces that John C. Bennett (Dr. John) is being disfellowshipped. One of the charges is that Dr. John has been practicing “buggery” with some of the Nauvoo Legion. Another is that the doctor has been doing the “nasty” with a number of women, including Orson Pratt’s wife.

Orson Pratt refuses to sign the announcement. (HUH???)

Perhaps a little background, might be enlightening:

Earlier, while hubby Orson was in Merry Olde England, looking for suckers, Joe decided that Sarah Pratt was prime for the picking.

Sarah had other ideas.

When he propositioned her, she replied: “Am I called upon to break the marriage covenant … to my lawful husband! I never will. I care not for the blessings of Jacob, and I believe in NO SUCH revelations, neither will I consent under any circumstances. I have one good husband, and that is enough for me. Joseph, if you ever attempt any thing of the kind with me again, I will tell Mr. Pratt on his return home. Depend upon it, I will certainly do itRichard Van Wagoner: “Sarah Pratt: The Shaping of an Apostate” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol 19, #2 (Summer 1986) p. 77

Joe, as we have learned, isn’t fond of being challenged by one of his “flock”.“Sister Pratt, I hope you will not expose me; if I am to suffer, all suffer; so do not expose me. … If you should tell, I will ruin your reputation, remember that.” Andrew Smith: The Saintly Scoundrel: The Life and Times of Dr. John Cook Bennett, University of Illinois Press. (1971) p. 141.

When hubby came home, Sarah informed him of the situation, and Orson confronted Joe. Joe denied he propositioned Sarah and claimed he found her in bed with Dr. John.  He told Orson that if he believes his wife instead of Joe, he’ll go to hell! Richard Van Wagoner: “Sarah Pratt: The Shaping of an Apostate” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol 19, #2 (Summer 1986) p. 79

Joe's bro Hyrum

Joe’s bro Hyrum

Joe followed up by having the Mormonite press claim that the couple that Sarah was staying with (Stephen H. Goddard and his wife, Zeruiah) caught Dr. John “taking his hands out of her bosom”.

When confronted about this, Zeruiah told Sarah “It is not my fault; Hyrum Smith came to our house, with the affidavits all written out, and forced us to sign them. Joseph and the Church must be saved, said he. We saw that resistance was useless, they would have ruined us; so we signed the papers.” Andrew Smith: The Saintly Scoundrel: The Life and Times of Dr. John Cook Bennett, University of Illinois Press. (1971) p. 141.

Dr. John

Dr. John

While he’s slurring reputations, Bro Hyrum also claims that Dr. John is an abortionist. History of the Church, 5:71

However, there are allegations from some Mormonites, that the abortions were performed so that a certain “prophet” and high-ranking church leaders, including the doctor, wouldn’t be embarrassed by some “lingering problems”.

Whether this is all true or not, I really don’t know. What I do know, is that Joe, the doctor and other church officials were screwing multiple women and lying to the “flock” about it.

The church claims there is no DNA evidence showing illegitimate offspring. However, as is usual with church spin, there are some issues with this.

First off, only five potential bastards were ever checked. Two of those were sons of Clarissa Reed Hancock and there is no substantiation that she was ever a “wife”. (She didn’t even make the cut on my list) Of the other three, only Fawn Brodie speculated that Presendia Buell’s son Oliver was Joe’s. That leaves Zina Jacobs’ son Zeb and Mary Ann Pratt’s son Moroni. We haven’t met Mary Ann yet, but we will. (Btw, she had been divorced several years before his birth, so he’s somebody’s bastard.)

No word on Marinda Hyde’s son Frank. Another son, Orson, died in infancy so there’s no DNA available (unless you’re a grave robber). Mary Lightner’s son Algernon also died in infancy.  And, there’s nothing on Sylvia Lyon’s daughter, Josephine, which is a bit strange, since Sylvia told Josephine that she was Joe’s.

So, that’s two out of ??? In any case, a handy abortionist could easily explain the lack of offspring. So, if Dr. John was really an abortionist, it’s most likely he was in “general practice”.

(prior to 6/1842) Sarah Maryetta Kingsley (Cleveland) 53 (married)

Sarah is lucky #13 in Joe’s extended marriage.

You were expecting Bill Haley?

(5/20/1842) Catherine Fuller Warren is charged with “unchaste and unvirtuous conduct with John C. Bennett and others”. Catherine admits to screwing Dr. John as well as Chauncy Higbee (A lot more on him coming up later.) and Joe’s bro, Apostle Willie.

In her defense she states that the men had “taught the doctrine that it was right to have free intercourse with women and that the heads of the Church also taught and practiced it which things caused her to be led away thinking it to be right.” Minutes of The High Council of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 24 May 1842

Two other women (Margaret and Matilda Nyman) back up her story that Dr. John and Willie told them Joe approved of “spiritual wifery” wherein several men have sexual relations with a woman. (Nowadays, that’s called a “gang bang”.)

Thus begins a sequence of events that will culminate in Joe’s death.

And, with that bit of ominousity, we’ll take temporary leave of Joe and his bed buddies. I’m way past 4000 words, with a lot more wives to come. So, once again, what had been one, becomes two and may morph into three.

To give you a review and a preview, I’ll leave you with this chart.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Lastly, the “sequence of events” tease gives me an excuse to close with a John Hartford demonstration:


See you next time, serial adultery fans.


p.s.: If my ramblings don’t revolt you, check out my FaceBook page (“Grouchy’s Grumbles”) you might just enjoy it. Better yet, you might “like” it.  I’d love it if you did. It’s free (and worth every cent) and almost completely painless (other than the usual bad jokes).

Leave a Reply